On this date in Ohio State football: Sept. 7, 2015

Ray Stein
Buckeye Xtra
Ohio State quarterback Cardale Jones, left, learned only seconds before the 2015 season opener against Virginia Tech that he would be the starter over incumbent J.T. Barrett. [Barbara J. Perenic/Dispatch]

Taking a look back at a game Ohio State played on this date:

Ohio State 42, Virginia Tech 24

Setup: It seems a lifetime ago that a college football season could begin without discussion about whether Alabama would be No. 1 and Clemson No. 2 come January or vice versa. But back in the old days of 2015, before those programs dominated almost every facet of the sport, Ohio State was the shiny toy that could not, would not be ignored. The Buckeyes had gone three quarterbacks deep to win the 2014 national title — and first College Football Playoff. Urban Meyer’s fourth team then entered the ’15 season with an embarrassment of talent and carrying the grandest of expectations — unanimous preseason No. 1, favored to repeat as champions by Vegas bookmakers and not one but two Heisman Trophy contenders in tailback Ezekiel Elliott and quarterback Cardale Jones. What could go wrong? For one thing, an opener at Virginia Tech, the only team to tame OSU in 2014.

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Stars: Braxton Miller, the OG of 2014 Ohio State quarterbacks, made a flawless first impression at receiver, totaling 140 yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns. Elliott had 122 rushing yards that included an 80-yard scoring burst but only 10 other carries. And Jones, who learned he had beaten out J.T. Barrett and would start the season at QB only seconds before he took the field, had a credible showing with 186 yards passing, 99 rushing and three total touchdowns.

Turning point: A Jones interception and an Elliott fumble helped Virginia Tech take a 17-14 halftime lead, but the Buckeyes rebounded with two third-quarter TDs by Miller in a 28-point second half. The first was a 54-yard pass from a scrambling Jones, and the second was a 53-yard run out of the wildcat in which Miller utilized a sick spin move to leave two Hokies defenders grasping only air.

Impact: Ohio State’s unanimity atop the polls began to erode almost immediately, and by midseason the Buckeyes’ hold on No. 1 was merely a plurality. Barrett eventually unseated Jones at starter, only to be suspended for a game after a DUI in an off week. The wheels came off Nov. 21 against Michigan State, a 17-14 defeat that still mystifies OSU fans.

Quotable: “I’m going to have conversation with them. There might come a time when we have to (make a change). This journey is going to be interesting. We have to make sure I’m not screwing it up.” — Meyer, who was either a prophet or whistling past the graveyard when discussing his quarterbacks after the Tech game

Ray Stein

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